Harrison awaits repercussions from hit
In the aftermath of the Steelers' sluggish 14-3 victory over Cleveland on Thursday night, an unapologetic James Harrison was somewhat perplexed about the roughing-the-passer penalty he incurred late in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy left the pocket to complete a pass to Montario Hardesty with 5:59 to play and the Browns trailing, 7-3. Harrison delivered a vicious helmet-to-helmet blow that left McCoy stretched out on the cold, ragged Heinz Field turf.
The penalty tacked on 15 yards, placed the ball on the Steelers' 19 and positioned the Browns to steal a rare victory in this one-sided AFC North rivalry. But five plays later, cornerback William Gay intercepted a hurried pass from a disoriented McCoy.
Harrison isn't likely to escape the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when league officials deliberate next week to consider either a fine or suspension -- or both.
"From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he's a runner," Harrison said. "All the 'defenseless' liberties a quarterback has in the pocket are gone.
"You can tackle him just as if he's a running back. The hit wasn't late, so I really don't understand why it was called. We'll see what transpires later on in the week."
According to a league spokesman, Harrison's hit on McCoy probably will be reviewed early next week to determine whether referee Ed Hochuli's crew erred in penalizing Harrison for illegal contact to the head - a rule change tweaked specifically to protect "a passer who is in a defenseless posture."
Harrison clearly made contact with McCoy's helmet as he torpedoed his 255-pound body into the Browns' quarterback, who was exposed after releasing the pass. McCoy, who later complained of concussion-like symptoms, said he couldn't remember Harrison's hit. He was visibly dazed as he walked through the stadium corridor prior to his postgame interview.
Harrison and his agent, Bill Parise, are preparing for Goodell to deliver the next blow in a verbal sparring match that began when Harrison publicly ridiculed the commissioner during the NFL lockout for insinuating he's a dirty player.
However, it's Harrison's past that appears to give Goodell leverage to issue a significant fine. The All-Pro linebacker was fined more than $100,000 for three incidents last season, including a helmet-to-helmet blow to Cleveland wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
"There was nothing dirty about that (McCoy) hit," Parise said Friday. "There was nothing malicious about it. It was nothing more than a great player making a great play.
"I don't think anyone watching (Thursday) night - including the league office - feels that was a flagrant hit. It's just football. It was a tenth of a second between (McCoy) releasing the ball and James hitting him."
Parise acknowledged that he and Harrison exchanged text messages yesterday, but declined to say if their conversation centered on how they will move forward if the league opts to fine Harrison.
"There are a couple of issues here," Parise said. "The (league) will look at the tape, and I would want to hear what they say before James and I make a decision.
"I'm certainly willing to appeal. Right now, we're all sitting here saying, 'What if?' I think it's proven that appeals are basically worthless."
However, Parise convinced league officials last season to reduce two of Harrison's fines.
It may not factor into Goodell's decision, but the Steelers are among the most heavily fined teams in the league this season. Safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu have both been fined twice this season, including Clark's $40,000 fine for his Nov. 6 hit on Ravens tight end Ed Dickson.
Steelers vs. Browns December 8, 2011
The Steelers defeat Cleveland, 14-3, Thursday, December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Steelers won’t change scheme after Pouncey injury
- Veteran quarterback Vick is vowing to make Steelers proud
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin leaving `light on’ for injured players
- Steelers ink QB Vick, new teammates OK with signing
- Steelers rookie receiver Coates learning on the fly
- Steelers notebook: Mitchell injures left ankle in practice
- Steelers notebook: Legursky returns to provide offensive line depth
- Dog-loving fans irate about Vick signing with Steelers
- Starkey: Fans should be used to rooting for players with baggage
- Starkey: Steelers stopping themselves with suspensions